Wood boys rally to beat Clarke
Posted: December 10, 2012
Special to The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — “The System” is always going to be to the liking of the James Wood boys’ basketball team.
The Colonels’ use of it calls for getting turnovers off traps, looking up the floor, and draining 3-pointers at a rapid pace.
It’s also a good thing to settle for the best shot possible, which is exactly what James Wood did to rally back for an 83-72 win over Clarke County on Saturday in a non-district game at Donald H. Shirley Gymnasium.
While the Colonels still unloaded from outside — making 10 of their 37 3-point attempts — the ability to attack the basket and get either layups or short jumpers to fall proved to be the deciding factor in their home opener.
“[The Eagles] were concentrating more on coming out to the perimeter and taking away the 3, and I thought our guys reacted to that very well,” James Wood coach Al Smith said. “We just took it right to the basket. We saw early on that they were leaving the middle wide open, and the guys took it right to the rim.”
The Colonels (2-1) did not take long to make their move once the second half began. Down 40-37 at the break, James Wood put together one of its most productive third periods of the early season. With a good mix of made baskets, James Wood opened with a 20-8 run and forced Clarke County coach Brent Emmart to use three timeouts in the third.
Just 22 seconds into the third, junior guard Ryland Williams slashed to the basket and scored. This would become a common occurrence for the Eagles most of the game, as they could not stop Williams off the dribble.
Next for the Colonels, senior guard Nick Foura lofted a high shot from the behind the arc that found nothing but net to send James Wood back ahead 42-40. The Colonels would not trail again.
The game was tied at 44 when James Wood reeled off eight straight points, getting 3-pointers from junior Nick Goode and Williams, and a layup from senior Brett Lewin, to move out to a 52-44 lead with 5:00 left.
The Colonels would keep their lead between five and nine points the rest of the period, moving to the fourth with a 66-59 lead when Williams drove for another layup with 20 seconds left in the third for the seven-point margin.
In the third, James Wood made 12 of 21 shots from the field, which included a good mix of shots in close and outside (five 3-pointers), and scored 29 points. Seven players scored in the period, and Williams had his best quarter, scoring nine of his game-high 22 points.
“I think our hustle basically turned it around,” said Williams, who also grabbed eight rebounds to share team honors with Lewin. “We all got into it, we got intense. And then we kept hitting. Couldn’t miss. They took away our 3s, so we went to the bucket.”
Smith liked the way Williams took charge all over the floor, providing the biggest spark in a win that many contributed to for James Wood.
“This was his best game to date,” Smith said. “I know when he was a freshman he got  points against Millbrook and that was a great game, but this game was more of a complete game for him. He was handling the ball, he was making [good] decisions, he was sharing the ball. He was tied with Brett [Lewin] for rebounding and I think he tied for assists [in the win]. So he did it all.”
James Wood kept the lead throughout the fourth, holding Clarke County to 13 points (the Eagles missed 11 of 15 shots from the field) and continuing to keep the game at a fast pace to wear down the Eagles, who used only a seven-player rotation much of the game. The Colonels, who used 13 players and never went more than 90 seconds to sub in and out a whole new group, got all seven of their field goals in close to reach 80 or more points for a third straight game.
“They did a good job of throwing the ball down the side and pitching ahead,” Emmart said. “Then they ran the ball off our backs, so the ball was going by us when we were running back instead of seeing the ball. And we weren’t in position.
“In the second quarter, we got up five [points] because we beat the press as a team. In the third quarter we reverted back to our old habit of trying to beat it with a bounce as individuals. When we don’t play like a team, we struggle.”
The Eagles had plenty of empty possessions as they tried to come back, with 17 of their 26 turnovers coming in the second half.
“They do a good job getting open off the press-break, but I thought we did a much better job of handling that in the second half and creating some turnover situations for us,” Smith said. “Part of [forcing turnovers] was probably due to they don’t go very deep in their bench, and that’s why we wanted to keep that pace up. You could tell by the middle of the third quarter that their legs were pretty much gone.”
For the game, James Wood made 23 of 40 shots (57.5 percent) from inside the 3-point arc, and sharing the ball often resulted in 11 players scoring.
Besides Williams, Foura scored 14 points (4 of 6 on 3-pointers), Peyton Crickman had 12, Lewin eight, and Goode and Michael Carter scored six apiece.
“We all can shoot, we all can take it to the basket, we all can basically do everything on the court,” Williams said. “When we work together, everything clicks.”
Though the game was never far from out of reach for Clarke County (0-5), the best moments for the Eagles came in the first half when they kept up with James Wood’s tempo.
Guided by seniors Cody Taylor (a Millbrook transfer) and Todd Benton, Clarke County traded points with James Wood, with the first period ending in a tie at 22. Benton put in eight points in the first and Taylor scored six. The Colonels moved ahead early in the second period and still were in control heading into the final minutes when the Eagles made their move.
A drive by Taylor kick-started a 12-0 run for Clarke County. Four different players scored for the Eagles, and two free throws by senior Davey Hardesty made it 40-35 Clarke County with 1:08 left. Lewin got a basket for the final points of the first half, but Clarke County clearly had the momentum going into halftime.
“That was the best we played — the last four minutes of the second quarter, we were good,” Emmart said. “The other three quarters, we didn’t play as well and we tried to do to much individually offensively and then we didn’t play team defense. Then we lost the rebound battle, turnover battle. Do that, and it’s hard to win games.”
The Eagles did place four in double-digit scoring. Taylor and Benton each scored 20 points, Sean McDonald had 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds, and Hardesty scored 11.